This article examines how our approach to our roles should change when we move from a subordinate to a supervisory position and suggest six things that we might do.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):


Key Questions to Explore:

  • What makes us successful as employees?
  • What different approaches are needed to be an effective team leader?

New Terminology:


Materials Needed:

Copies of the article

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

People are often promoted to leadership positions because they have been successful in their current position. As they assume their new role often they fail to realize the true nature of leadership. There is the formal leadership that is granted by the organization through title and assigned responsibility but there is also informal leadership which is granted, not by the organization, but by subordinates who choose to be led because they see quality in the person. New leaders, if they are going to be successful, must see that the informal authority is a powerful thing that must be nurtured. They, therefore, need to understand that the skill set that previously made them successful may not serve them well in their new role. They need to accept that becoming a successful team leader requires a shift in focus from an “I” to a “We” perspective. The needs of the group and their aspirations must now be considered when providing direction and leadership. Failure to make this needed shift often results in frustration, resentment and lowered productivity and contentment for everyone. This lesson, therefore, will have the students examine how they think their approach would or should change as they assume a leadership role and, indeed, whether or not they would enjoy the leadership role.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Ask the students to think of someone they consider to be successful in their job.
  • Ask them to list the reasons why they consider that person to be successful.
  • Ask them now to think of a leader that they consider to be a successful leader.
  • Have them list their reasons why they consider that person to be a successful leader.
  • At this point divide the class into groups of five or six and ask the groups to discuss what they believe they would have to do to be successful in their first full time position.
  • Allow the groups a few moments to complete their list and then have the groups share their decisions.
  • Ask the groups to now consider if they think they would have to change any of those things if they were appointed to a leadership role within the company that employed them.
  • Allow the groups time to consider the task.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have each group report their decisions and then hold a plenary session during which the students discuss the group reports and try to come to a consensus about any needed alterations to be a successful leader.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will:

  • Understand that there is both a formal and informal leadership and that successful leaders enjoy both.
  • Recognize that there needs to be an alteration from an “I” approach to a “We” approach when assuming a leadership role.

Confirming Activity:

  • Once the plenary session has been completed provide the students with a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Once they have read it, have the class discuss whether what they have just read changes their ideas about what alterations to approach must be made by anyone assuming a leadership role.